Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gameshows pt. 4: Parting Gifts

We all know what the winner gets in the end of most gameshows, cash and luxurious prizes galore. It's the main reason why we want to be on gameshows and why we watch. We like to see the spoils of their efforts and take part in such. But as far as the also-rans, well, they get stuck with parting gifts. An atta-boy for participating and some lesser prizes. Now it could be like they do in Jeopardy! now and give $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third or even better like with Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right and keep what you won. But alas most gameshows don't follow that principle. Now I don't know if it's something contributed to production costs of the show, if the producers are just a bunch of cheap bastards, or they're really strapped for sponsorship and would want to have something, anything, to promote. But for as long as they're competitive gameshows, nine times out of ten there will be parting gifts. And what a better way to end GAMESHOW MONTH than to close with what they try to shove off for their losers. So without further ado, here's to parting gifts and all the blandness and atta-boys that they bring to the show. 

Now a big thing with most gameshows back in the day were the board game version of their show. It seemed that everyone of them had the home version of the show. Yeah, like the one thing I want to do after losing on the actual show was to go play and lose the same game at home. They really tried to make it worth the effort and it worked as advertising for them away from the television. Some of more successful ones were of course Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, but others try to make a valiant effort. Two of which that sticks out for me were Fun House and Double Dare. Of course if advertising to kids (which I was at the time), you're gonna win with just about anything. But man, were they such a letdown. I remember I was five and it was Christmas when I got Fun House as a present. I was thrilled because the show itself was a gameshow for kids and Fox Kids (when they did have stuff for kids back then) played the hell out of that show. It was kids, chaos, slime, and prizes galore; everything that would've make me have a shit-eating grin for days on end. This board game however, was the epitome of 180 degrees. It was cumbersome to setup, the pieces would easily break or get lost, the actual activities in the game sucked in comparison to the gameshow itself, the whole friggin thing was a waste of my parents money to buy me. At least Double Dare had Gak or whatever Nickelodeon called their slime. Don't get me wrong, it still sucked in comparison to the show and all the other gripes were just about the same for both games. Not a smooth translation of the show to cardboard and plastic. And it was that way for most gameshow adaptations. I think I remember playing Name That Tune the board game and it totally bombed unless you were big into the swing and big band era of the 40's and 50's. Not to mention trying to listen to someone trying to hum a song they have no idea how; or if they do their tempo and pitch are so off that it was basically a totally different song. Basically, gameshows-to-board games are a lose-lose combination. 

Now just as you thought that that was the pinnacle of vanity, they stepped into the digital era with videogames. I still have my copy of Jeopardy! for the NES and I pretty much played the hell out of that that I was the Ken Jennings of my console. But there are many more than just that for take home incarnations. I remember when your only choice for gameshow videogames were Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (which were lame at best). As of the past decade or so it seems that every popular show had it's own game. Ranging from Price is Right to Millionaire to God knows what else. Hell, I got Don't Forget the Lyrics and The Price is Right app downloaded. It's just inevitable that they just seem to pop up in every medium. And I'm sure we all played a modified version of Jeopardy! in school for an interactive form of a study group. Or even when placing a bet with friends at one point someone might've used the term "Price is Right rules" to add a degree of not going over your wager. They just seem to be everywhere. The true parting gifts are that the fans take their favorite gameshow everywhere. 

But there were more than just the home game that were given to the losers. They received other useless crap like small appliances like phones, microwaves, or a lamp. Like they don't already have these. It's not even top of the line stuff too. It's stuff you might splurge on at Wal-Mart. Really, a damn cordless phone set for all my efforts trying?!? What really gets me is stuff they try to translate for monitory value like flowers once a month for a year or a $100 gift card for Home Depot or Applebee's. You can't buy me with power tools and tulips. It's just seems kinda cheap while others give out cash or their earnings the also-rans made in their efforts. All I want to know is that they should put more efforts in their parting gifts. Make it worth our while, at least $500 worth of stuff. Or hell, just cash. I don't need $1000 like Jeopardy! does now, $500 will work just fine. 

And that just about it for GAMESHOW MONTH. Normal ranting, randomness, and other bullshit will continue as normal next week. But as of now, I just want to leave you with one more tidbit, a parting gift for participating if you will. Because I'm such a Jeopardy! fanatic; next time you watch the Final Jeopardy! round, sing I'm a little tea pot with it. Yeah, who'd thunk that a moment of silence to write down an answer that could cost you thousands of dollars is related to a nursery rhyme. But for now, I'll think I'll stick with my Price is Right theme playing in my head... That, and Adam Sandler getting his ass handed to by Bob Barker...

BootLeG sampler.. signing out...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gameshows pt. 3 Station Identification

Now how the hell am I not going to do a whole month of gameshow ranting and not mention Game Show Network? That's just about as off as James Earl Jones not being the voice of Darth Vader. It's just not natural. Anyways, GSN had gone though so many changes in the decade or so since I've been watching it that it hurts my head just thinking about it. But none the less the channel is still up and strong. So here's my ode to the reason my cable bill is higher than it should be. 

I first heard about the network in the late nineties when the ending credits would roll at the end of Wheel of Fortune and it peaked my interest then. Of course I was a teenager then and no say on what would my parents would subscribe to on cable outside of the occasional WWF Pay-Per-View event. Hell, even if I did have a say it wasn't available from my provider at the time. It wasn't until about 2002 is when I was on my own and found a cable company that did have it. And like a junkie it sucked me into it's addicting grasp. I was amazed of seeing some of my old favorites of my youth like Card Sharks, Let's Make A Deal, $100,000 Pyramid, and even some forgotten freshness like Press Your Luck and the all popular Match Game. It was a gameshow lovers nirvana at that point; and then it got even better. They had they're own original shows like Lingo, Russian Roulette, Friend or Foe, and even a remake of Press Your Luck (and it was a good remake too)! Then as time goes on, some execs like they always seem to do, turned a great thing and totally jacked it up. 

It was inevitable. It always seem to happen to good things. It's not proven law that it happens 100% of the time, but a good 80% is enough to piss me off when it's that many companies and organizations do that. And GSN is no exception. It first started by shortening the name of itself to GSN, which I thought was good. And then they stopped production of some of their originals like Russian Roulette, and Friend or Foe as well as scaling down the running of classics like Let's Make A Deal with showings of classic Family Feud and new Family Feud back to back. That pissed me off cause they were one of the reasons I would keep it on GSN 24/7. They also had it so you could play their games interactively online while the show is on for prizes if you signed up with GSN.com; which I liked. But when my shows went and left like I mentioned, so did that feature. UGH!?! That bites! And then, they try to introduce new shows, original shows. And, well, honestly I'm indifferent about that. Some were decent like High Stakes Poker and World Series of Blackjack (but that's another vise of mine we'll discuss). I likes the competitiveness of that and the strategic gameplay of it. But some were just, not. Their remake of The Newlywed Game and their own twist on The Dating Game, Baggage, is alright at best. They make attempts to make it hip and fresh but not to make them even remotely close to come up the censors radar. Don't they even know that some of the funniest shit is when they say the hell with the censors and let it fly. That's why there's YouTube. All I ask is if anyone can find a torrent of some of the cooler stuff I mentioned just hit me up on twitter or my email on the contact page. 

One more thing about GSN that wad good in my opinion, and I would've hoped they would've expanded on, was that they did specials if you could believe it. They actually had special presentations about things that were either a great anomaly in gameshows such as Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck scandal. That was the story of a man who was so obsessed with the show he studied the patterns of the board to maximize his winnings to a record-breaking $100,000+ for the show. Or the one they did as the in-depth history of Match Game. That went as far as cast interviews of how lucid and wild it wad to be on the set of Match Game and its feeble attempt to revamp it in the early 90's. Once again, I WANT TORRENTS OF THESE!!! They were fascinating since it combined two of my favorite things to watch, documentaries being the other. They also did a few others that I remember such as an ode to the career and life of Chuck Woolery and his accomplishments so far at that time and even an ultimate quiz show challenge where they pooled the top 16 winningest contestants in all quiz-based gameshows to see who's the best in the field of quiz shows. Obviously Ken Jennings won, but that's another topic. The point is that they should've expanded on these. I would've loved to see an ode to Bob Barker or even a retrospect on how Ken Jennings set himself as the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of Jeopardy! champions. Or even a side by side comparison of Brad Rutter and Ken biding for the most winningest contestant in gameshow history. They could play it out like The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters did in their efforts to prove that Steve Wiebe is indeed the highest scorer on Donkey Kong. Or hell GSN, just show that!?! That's at least as competitive as high stakes poker and it deserves more than the attention G4 given it. 

Well, thats the end of my seemingly endless rant on GSN itself. If I continued at that pace we'd be here all night. But now it's time for me to seek what will week four bring for GAMESHOW MONTH. It'll be a doozy I assure you. Stay tuned.

BootLeG sampler.. signing out...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gameshows pt. 2: The rant continues

I left off in the auspice of just describing the different type of gameshows, and not really getting into full on WTF PEOPLE!?! mode. Well, you're in luck this week. Here's my praises and multiple gripes on the state of the gameshow. 

Like I said, I love gameshows. They're highly addictive for the most part and it shows my prowess on how better I could be on a show versus the actual contestants (producers of Jeopardy!, listen up here). That and I'm a trivia junkie, full of useless knowledge. Well, some people might call it full of shit, but I'm calling it useless knowledge. And in that layout I would lay waste to any opposition in a game of logic, wits, lyrical prose, and general knowledge. There's just seem to be a very satisfying feeling to know that you're first to know something before your opponents. And shows like Jeopardy, Millionaire, and other incarnations of the such are my heroin. Hell, catch me at a bar during trivia night and I become the drunken master of the quiz bowl. 

But that's enough bragging about me (for now), there's always seem to be for every yin there's a yang. And for every shining star, they're a black hole of talent that somehow make it past auditions to the actual show. These people are the reasons Stupid Game Show Answers exist. These void of answers and skill I understand that maybe the producers selected to amuse the viewership, and for the most part they do. It jus that it pisses me off on how the hell do someone lacking so much common sense make it to the show and not me. Granted I don't apply for shows like Family Feud or Lingo and I don't make it a regular habit go be in the audience of The Price is Right, but for some dumbasses it seem all too easy. Just answer me this producers, why?!? Why the hell these people?!? I mean outside of viral videos on YouTube and the honorable (if you want to call it such) mention at the before-mentioned link wouldn't you avoid such calamity. It irks me to no end. 

So we'd discussed the good so far with my obsession over trivia and other useless facts; and we'd discussed the bad with the lack of cranial mass with dumbass contestants. Now we go on to the ugly. The commercials. Now I know that without commercials there would be no television shows free to watch on network television or our cable and satellite bills would be out-friggin-ragous in the bad sense of the term. But what the hell is it with almost every commercial about diabetes and term life insurance. The only time I really want to see Alex Trebek outside of Jeopardy! is on SNL, not about pennies a day insurance that I'm 20 years too young to participate for. I understand demographic and all but look at The Price is Right. The general commercials is about Depends, Metamucial, and the lady that fallen and can't get up. Now look at the contestants, young college students with a Happy Gilmore complex, Jarheads from Camp Pendelton, a Latino from East L.A., and the occasional Canadian. Now, does that sounds like anyone that those products are for. Well, maybe the Canadian (and I probably just pissed off some people with that one). But really, know your friggin audience. Know who are viewing and adjust is all I ask. That's not to say make every other commercial sponsored by onlinebootycall.com but to cater to something a little more pre-premenopausal. 

And that's it for now. Stay tuned for more exciting rants and the fabulous showcase, coming up on the second half of GAMESHOW MONTH!!! (Queue Price is Right theme music and the lovely ladies).

BootLeG sampler.. signing out...

Monday, July 4, 2011

WTF PEOPLE!?! Gameshows

Back to some of my vices that I just can't seem to shake. And this particular vice is so massive that one post isn't gonna cut it. This is GAMESHOW MONTH in full effect people. So sit back and let the over-obsessive ranting begin!!!

What is it about gameshows that draws our attention to them. How have we as a well cultured society even fathom having so many of them that we have a television network solely dedicated to it. (Then again we also have networks dedicated to soap operas, chick flicks, cartoons, food, as well as multiple networks for news, sports, and porn. But that's another discussion). Are we really that addicted to the idiot box for these things. Simple answer is yes, and here's my stance on them. 

Now just before we continue down this rabbit hole, I just want to say that I don't have anything against gameshows. I find them pretty damn entertaining. Some of my earliest memories is me watching The Price is Right with my babysitter while my parents were at work. Of course I was two years old then and very impressionable, so you could say that I started young. It was fascinating for me because of all the bright lights, loud noises, and all those flashy new prizes just begging to be won. It was like winning the lottery and scoring big in the casino all rolled into one because it was filmed for a national audience. But as I matured, so did gameshows, as well as my taste for them. 

From what I classify there are 3 types of gameshows. The quiz show, the showcase, and the cause and effect genres. Each one unique in it's delivery and all resulting to a win/lose outcome. The simplest of the three to go over is the quiz show. It's pure knowledge and logic based and it could range from general knowledge to wordsmithing to even specialized topics like pop culture and the like. A perfect example of this (and my personal favorite in this category) is Jeopardy! It a game of wits, smarts, and not just any Joe Schmoe can be a contender (anyone can be a contestant). You have to have logic enough to outsmart a computer and thumbs so blistered you'll make hardcore gamers envious. Others try to imitate it's formula for success like Lingo, Trivial Persuit, and even to go as far out as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But hardly able to duplicate it's potential. Granted Jeopardy! wasn't the first quiz show made, others even stood ground for a while. But when you have self made celebrities like Ken Jennings that pretty much showed the common man that with a little effort and a lot of know how, the skies the limit. 

Now for a more humbling effort for a gameshow, the cause and effect type. This one rely more on what human reaction and interaction in the making of the outcome of the game. This is more present in games that either involve physical endurance such as Wipeout, Destroy Build Destroy, or Fear Factor; and those games that require partnership with a second person or a team like Lingo, Family Feud, or Win, Lose, or Draw. Both subtypes have similar variables such as it is unpredictable on what might happen outside of what is mandated in their rules and regulations. The excitement aspect of this genre is also it's downside, the reaction of their contestants in the constraints of the game rules. It works for some where in the case of Fear Factor where to win $50,000 you have to do stunts or eat exotic insects in a trial to be the last man standing. But on the flip side such as being partnered up with an illiterate dumbass that can't spell a five-letter word to save their live as is the case of Lingo or some wild off-the-wall answer you would get from (even worse) a family member like on Family Feud. Either way, it makes for great entertainment for the most part and draws the most people to it versus any other genre of gaming; contestant or viewer. 

And now we look into the showcase gameshow. It's pure and simple. Compete in individualized tests of knowledge or skill to win instead of cash, prizes; such as trips, appliances, or even vehicles. The most well known of gameshow that this references is The Price is Right; but it's not alone with the likes of Wheel of Fortune, Press Your Luck, Pyramid, and Family Game Night. They're all follow the same formula of compete for a chance to win big or go home. Once again a proven system and able to withstand the test of time given the right timeslot and network. But that's the fate of any gameshow. 

So that's my synopsis of gameshows in general. Tune in next week for a further look into gameshows and the commercials that are so damn awkward and yet so definitive to them. Happy Gameshow Month!

BootLeG sampler.. signing out...

P.S. Shotout to my friend Rob Mancini who works as a producer for Destroy Build Destroy, great job bro...